No Bears And Not Many Birds But Still Another Nice Hike In State Game Lands 119

No Bears And Not Many Birds But Still Another Nice Hike In State Game Lands 119

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I was still excited and elated  from my surprise and unexpected  encounter with the bobcat in the Susquehanna Wetlands on Sunday morning. It was such a beautiful animal.   And  I was so fortunate to see and photograph this usually  seclusive critter. I decided to search for another one  of my favorite Pennsylvania mammals in  State Game lands 119 in Dennison Township, Luzerne County, the black bear.  A bear finally briefly visited my yard in Hazle Township this  past week and I hoped to see another one  or two on my hike in the game lands. I have seen many bears here on my hikes in previous years but not a one  this year. 

The high bush blueberries were ripening and I hoped the  bears would be feeding on  them as  they  have in the past. It was foggy and a muggy 63 degrees when I arrived at the game lands around 7;30 a.m.  We had some much  needed rain overnight and the woods were still very wet. It was quiet. I didn’t hear or see a lot of song birds.  I think one of the reasons was  the warblers and vireos feed on insects and the insect weren’t active since their wings were still wet from the rain and fog. 

The rain and fog also  uncovered hundreds of spider webs along the trail. The moisture in the air clung to the delicate, and usually invisible,  webs  making then visible as I walked past them. They were everywhere. I never realized how many spiders there were in the woodlands. 

As I walked on the foggy trail,

and I finally heard some birds, eastern towhees, foraging  in the leaf litter on the ground. . A few would fly to a tree branch and sing.  You can see from the wet feathers on this  male that the ground was still soaked from the rain.

I soon found out how wet they were when I came to the old railroad right of way that would take me down a ridge and through a wetland to the Black Diamond Trail. The trail was covered in grass, very wet grass, and my sneakers, and socks were soon soaked. Walking 7 miles in wet shoes is not fun. 

The surrounding woods were wet to as  can be seen from the water droplets on the roundleaf greenbrier and

American chestnut leaves  along the trail. This young chestnut tree may produce a few chestnuts but it will eventually succumb to the blight that depleted this tree that once  was one of the most dominant trees in our forest. 

As I noted,  there are wetlands along the trail and many high bush blueberry bushes. Many of the berries still had not ripened but many were and I hoped the bears would  have noticed this. 

As I continued my hike  I saw a hopeful sign, this ant nest was ripped open and it was a  sign there was a bear in he area. The ant hill was intact on my hike a week earlier. 

As I proceeded on the trail I soon came face to face to a lot of  much smaller critters, these  small spiders had spun their webs across the path, The were spun right at my face level and I pulled  dozen of these webs off of my face. 

The sun had burned off the fog but there still were not many birds active in the woodlands.  I saw  this gray catbird, 

and this pretty  scarlet tanager but that was it  on this trail .

There were a few wildflowers blooming along the trail, including daisies, 

white meadowsweet, and 

one of my favorite, the pretty and delicate wood lily.

The trail took me past the now dry stream that is one of the headwaters of the Nescopeck Creek, and through a deep hemlock oak forest before meeting up with the Black Diamond Trail. 

Once on the wider and better maintained Black Diamond Trail I  walked south toward Moosehead lake. Along the way I found that there were still some milkweed flowers in bloom although many had already finished blooming and were developing small  seed pods. 

There were only a few butterflies attracted to the flowers, mainly fritillary butterflies and

an occasional swallowtail. 

There were many bees gathering pollen form the flowers. 

I walked up to Moosehead Lake not seeing a single hiker or biker on the trail, 

As usual I stopped at the wetlands  and pond across from the lake where  I saw this belted kingfisher perched on a dead tree branch ,

this eastern phoebe snatching insects above the wetlands,

there two woodpeckers in the trees near the wetlands, this downy woodpecker, 

and it’s larger cousin a hairy woodpecker. 

My favorite was  this pretty yellow throated vireo,

that was singing in a tree across from the wetlands. The sun was now shining in clear, hazy skies and it got hot.  I saw no more birds on my 7 mile hike. This is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos of the birds i saw on my hike in State Game Lands 119. State Game Lands 119 birds July 17 2022. 

I looked for frogs in the waters of the wetland,  I saw more then a dozen, but they quickly jumped into the waters covered with these beautiful water lilies,

and a few pond lilies. 

After  watching  the birds at the wetlands  I continued my walk on the Black Diamond Trail. Once again I reflected on the life of Alexander  Mitchell Palmer, the 50th U.S. Attorney General as I  walked past his childhood home in these remote woodlands. 

I walked the two miles on the trail, seeing some Summer wildflowers along the trail including, grass pinks, 

these yellow sanddune wallflowers,

and the seeds of  these salsify  flowers. 

I hike about two mile to this old concrete railroad telephone building where I  left the Black Diamond Trail and followed another old railroad right of way to back up the ridge to ward the parking lot of the game lands. 

As usual I stopped at the small pond  at the start of the trail and looked for osprey, belted kingfishers and  blue herons, I didn’t  see any on Sunday. 

and continued my walk through the now older oak and maple woodlands.

As I noted earlier, we have not had a lot of rain here in Northeastern Pennsylvania o I have not been  seeing a lot of mushrooms. However when I came to a small stream that still flows. along the trail I did find this amantia 

and  a few milker mushrooms,  Lactarius volemus .

 They get their name because of the white milk-like substance it produces when broken, The are edible but please don’t pick and consume any wild mushroom unless you absolutely know they are safe. There are species of mushrooms in our woodlands that are deadly. 

I walked through the woodlands where I have been seeing a scarlet tanager and hermit thrush. I didn’t see or hear them on Sunday. 

The trail took  me to the access road, the old Hollenback Road,  to  the State Game Lands 119 parking lot. It was another mile and I was getting hot and thirsty. I still kept my eyes peeled, I have seen bears on  this road but not on Sunday. I finished my 7 mile hike. I didn’t see a bear or bobcat but I still enjoyed my hike in the woodlands. I also enjoyed sharing the photos  I took here on my blog.   Take a look, here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike in State Game Lands 119. State Game Lands 119 July 17 2022. 

 

“Nature is one of the most underutilized treasures in life. It has the power to unburden hearts and reconnect to that inner place of peace.”
― Dr. Janice Anderson & Kiersten Anderson

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